2021 Canterbury Park Live Meet Preview

by The Oracle
Follow The Oracle on Twitter at @Oracle 65
He will provide selections daily.

Opening day of the 2021 Canterbury Park live racing meet is Tuesday, May 18!  That means it’s time to look back at the 2020 Canterbury Park live meet from a statistical standpoint and use that data to help us better predict the outcomes of the 2021 Canterbury Park races.

Canterbury Park is continuing its 50-cent 10% takeout Pick 5 wager this year, and is also adding a $1 Pick 6 with a 10% takeout.  Both of these wagers are fan-friendly, offering the lowest takeout in the country!  It will pay to get involved in these wagers at Canterbury Park!

Here’s a look at some final statistics for the thoroughbred races run at Canterbury Park in 2020, as we prepare to unlock the 2021 Canterbury Park handicapping puzzle.  Good luck in 2021!

The Favorite

The public correctly selected the winner 39% of the time in all thoroughbred races run at Canterbury Park last year.  That is 2-percentage points above the national average for winning favorites at all racetracks in North America in 2020, and matches how favorites fared at Canterbury Park in 2019.  The most formful races last year were the races for maiden claimers, which produced winning favorites 49% of the time (37/76).  Despite the high percentage of winning favorites in this category, betting them all still produced a 2% net loss.  This has been a trend that has held up well the past several years.  A lot of favorites seem to get their picture taken in the maiden claiming ranks at Canterbury Park.  Conversely, the maiden special weight races proved to be elusive to the betting public last year, as only 30% of the favorites in that category prevailed.  Let’s see if that trend carries forward to 2021.

 The Odds

Last year, heavy favorites that were bet down to 7/5 odds or lower won 115 races out of 253 attempts.  That’s a 45%-win rate, but it also shows that these “locks” lost more often than they won.  In fact, betting these heavy favorites to place or show would have been easier on the bankroll than betting them to win.  The ROI on win bets for these runners was $0.85 per dollar, whereas the place ROI was $0.99 and show was $0.96.

On the other end of the spectrum, there were 16 winners at 20-1 odds or higher last year, but over 700 runners went to post at those high odds.  Betting them all would have resulted in a 28% loss to the bankroll, despite catching a 54-1 winner in there.  And longshot betting to place and show was even worse, with place showing a 47% loss and show returning a loss of 44%.  Ouch!  Horseplayers who prefer place and show betting would be better served to concentrate on the lower priced horses to find their plays.

Historically, Canterbury Park has not been a “longshot” paradise, and last year 80% of the thoroughbred races were won by horses at odds below 6-1.

The “sweet spot” for win betting last year was the 6-1/7-1 odds range.  That range netted a loss of only 5% for the 320 runners if you played them all.  Of the horses in that odds-range, 10% emerged victorious.

 The Jockeys

Ry Eikleberry won the riding title at Canterbury Park last year as he led all jockeys with 77 wins.  Francisco Arrieta finished second with 71 wins and Alonso Quinonez was third with 45 wins.

Ry Eikleberry

Indications are that Arrieta will not be riding at Canterbury Park this summer, so Ry appears to be heavily favored to repeat as leading rider in 2021.  Since Eikleberry is such a well-known rider at Canterbury, his mounts always attract a lot of attention from the public.  Eikleberry won with 24% of his mounts last year, and returned 81 cents on the dollar overall.   He was solid with favorites (45% winners) and he showed a flat bet profit in dirt routes (ROI = $1.14) and turf sprints (ROI = $1.03).  (Interestingly enough, in 2019 Eikleberry showed a flat bet profit in dirt sprints and turf routes so go figure…).  Eikleberry was only 1/57 with horses going off at 8-1 odds and above, and in fact his highest paying winner last year paid only $18.00.

Alonso Quinonez had a solid year at Canterbury Park last year, finishing third in the overall standings with 45 wins.  “Q” was very horseplayer friendly as his overall ROI was $0.95 and he showed a flat bet profit in several categories.  He won with 50% of his favorites (19/38 ROI $1.06) and also showed a flat bet profit with longshots.  In fact, he brought home 3 winners last year that paid over $40.00, including a 46-1 winner on July 2 named Lilfeatheredindian who was trained by Nevada Litfin.  Quinonez was 6/113 with horses at 8-1 and higher, resulting in an ROI of $1.31 with the big longshots.  He also showed a flat bet profit in dirt routes (ROI = $1.50) and turf sprints (ROI = $1.58).  As Quinonez continues to have success, these numbers will likely drop as the public catches on.  However, it is worth pointing out what a strong meet he had at Canterbury Park for the bettors in 2020.

On the other end of the spectrum, the “flaming wallet” award went to Jareth Loveberry, who’s mounts at Canterbury Park returned only 44 cents on the dollar in 2020.  Loveberry is currently riding successfully at Arlington Park in 2021.

The Trainers

For the past several years, McLean Robertson and Robertino Diodoro have battled it out for leading trainer honors at Canterbury Park.  However, last year we had a new leading trainer Joel Berndt, who ended up winning the 2020 Canterbury training title pretty comfortably over Mac Robertson by a total of 45 wins to 36 wins.

Joel Berndt finished the 2020 Canterbury Park meet with 45 winners from 201 starts with an

Joel Berndt

ROI of $0.86.  Berndt runners were very reliable as the favorite (46% winners) and his best categories were claiming races (ROI = $1.06) and maiden special weight races (ROI = $1.40).  The Berndt horses not taking any action on the tote board struggled, winning only once at over 8-1 from 41 tries.  Berndt was pretty consistent with both dirt and turf runners, with turf routers being his best category (32% winners and ROI = $1.01).  Joel also had a very good meet with his two-year-old runners last year, winning 5 races from 15 starters (ROI = $1.25).  Even though the secret is out on Joel Berndt at Canterbury Park, I expect another strong season from this barn in 2021.

Mac Robertson has been a dominant presence on the trainer standings at Canterbury Park for the past twenty years.  He has some pretty consistent results over time, typically doing very well in the higher-level Allowance and Stakes races, especially for Minnesota breds.  He often excels with his two-year-old runners.  He is equally sharp on both the dirt and the turf.  Last year turned out to an atypical year for the Robertson barn as none of the prior trends really held up and his win percentage dipped below 20%.  I would expect an improved performance from this barn in 2021, and a return to the top of the trainer standings would be no surprise.

Justin Evans is bringing horses to Canterbury Park this summer so that deserves a mention here.  Evans was last at Canterbury Park in 2008 when he challenged for the trainer title with Jamie Ness and Mac Robertson.  Over the past decade, he has continued to win a high percentage of races at various tracks in Arizona and New Mexico.  A look at Evans past year shows him with a win percentage of 30% from 350 starters.  His bread and butter is dirt sprint racing where he is showing a flat bet profit of $1.07 from 210 starters (33% winners).  In short, if Evans comes into Canterbury in a serious way, he’s going to have a strong influence and is likely to occupy a top 5 spot in the trainer standings.  Also of note, leading rider Ry Eikleberry has ridden for Evans regularly in his off-seasons from Canterbury Park down in Arizona and New Mexico.

Honorable mentions go to Tony Rengstorf and Francisco Bravo who both had 23 wins at Canterbury Park in 2020 and posted positive ROIs of $1.28 and $1.31, respectively.  This is the second consecutive year that Rengstorf has posted a positive ROI at Canterbury Park, an outstanding feat.  Keep your eye on these two trainers as they continue to reward their backers with big mutuel payouts.

The “flaming wallet” award went to Tim Padilla, with an ROI last year of 0.42.  While he was very good with favorites (8/17 and ROI $1.05), he was 0/40 at 8-1 and higher last year at Canterbury Park.

Best of luck playing the 2021 live racing meet at Canterbury Park!

Thanksgiving Week at Canterbury Park Race Book

Tampa Bay Downs begins its 94th season of racing this Wednesday with an 11:25 a.m. first post.  Long-time local race fans will notice a familiar face offering selections in the competitive fields as Matt Carothers will handle those duties for the 90-day season. Carothers was Canterbury’s racing analyst in the early Park years before leaving for Monmouth and eventually TVG. Richard Grunder handles lead vocals as always.

To celebrate the start of the popular race meet, Canterbury Park Race Book will offer a 5 percent rebate on all Tampa Bay Downs wagers made Wednesday using an MVP Rewards card. The rebate will be awarded in the form of MVP Rewards points.

The Fair Grounds in New Orleans returns to the tradition of opening on Thanksgiving Day and Canterbury has all the action covered. Fair Grounds’ nine-race card begins at noon and features the Thanksgiving Classic Stakes.  Holiday racing Thursday also includes Churchill Downs,  Aqueduct and Golden Gate Fields. Here is the simulcast calendar for the remainder of the month.

The popular Black Friday Giveaway returns in both the Card Casino and the Race Book with 140 prize winners building wide.  Drawings for multiple winners will be held every half hour in each location from noon to 5:30 p.m. with an Unclaimed Prize Drawing at 6 p.m.

Check these links for participation details in both the Card Casino and Race Book and how you keep your MVP Rewards card active throughout the promotion.

Handicapping contests this week include the Thursday through Saturday Horse Player World Series Super Satellite and the return of In The Money Contest both Friday and Saturday.

Little Chicago Chophouse Opens May 16 at Canterbury Park

Upscale dining has come to Canterbury Park, as it introduces Little Chicago Chophouse, opening Thursday, May 16 at the popular suburban Minneapolis entertainment destination. Modeled after an East Coast steakhouse, the menu offers full cuts of Black Angus beef, fresh seafood, and pastas prepared with locally sourced ingredients. An extensive wine list and unique craft cocktail program accentuate the traditional menu offerings of the dining room. Chef Seth Teiken, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and former executive chef at Pazzaluna Urban Italian Restaurant in St. Paul, will guide Little Chicago Chophouse, serving dinner Wednesday through Sunday as well as family-style brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.

Tucked in a cozy yet open room just off the casino gaming floor, the 60-seat Little Chicago takes on the flare of a speakeasy as mixologists prepare cocktails tableside.

The cocktail menu features many classics including Martinis, Manhattans, the Old Fashioned, and Negroni . “We mix all classic recipes and some twists on those classics,” Shanti Jensen, Senior Manager of Restaurants, said.  Many very accessible wines are available plus an extensive offering of reserve wines by the bottle. “Wine is an extremely important component of the Little Chicago dining experience. Our professional servers are prepared to suggest the perfect pairing to our guests,” Jensen said.

The name Little Chicago invokes Shakopee’s past when, from the 1920s, throughout Prohibition, and well after into the ’40s, Twin Citians would venture south of the river for a smaller and much more conveniently located version of the Windy City where authorities were paid to look the other way. In Shakopee they found what they could not elsewhere:  illegal gambling and forbidden liquor, often accompanied by a thick steak.

“Little Chicago Chophouse incorporates the history of Shakopee into the present where you can get a cold drink while enjoying  a steak in a city that is still known for gambling,” Jensen said.

Gambling at Canterbury Park takes place in its 24/7 card casino, year-round racebook, and at the seasonal live horse race meet. Canterbury Park also hosts myriad special events. Recently introduced was Canterbury Commons, a multi-use redevelopment expected to attract more than $400 million in private investment. The initial phase of the project, the upscale Triple Crown Apartments with more than 300 units, will begin leasing in the coming months.

“Little Chicago Chophouse is like nothing else in this area. Business is booming and people are moving in. There are millions of visitors annually to Shakopee. Our new restaurant will be a very welcome addition to a flourishing city,” Jensen said.

Reservations are recommended and can be made through OpenTable.com.

Mutuel Madness

By Noah Joseph

Everyone has something they enjoy when visiting Canterbury Park. For some, it’s just watching the races, while for others, it’s the chance to win some money. Horse racing is one of a few sports in which wagers can be placed legally. In fact, without wagering, horse racing wouldn’t exist. While some bets produce small payouts, some pay huge amounts.

The most commonly placed wager is a $2 bet, the minimum bet for win, place, and show wagers. The highest $2 win payout in track history occurred not that long ago. In 2015, Congregation, under jockey Jenna Joubert, payed $161 to win. The highest $2 place payoff is actually higher than the win payoff. Bask in the Wind payed $192.60 to place in 1990. The highest show payoff was set by Turtle Mountain, who payed $122.00 to show in 2009.

Exotic wagers, which are bets that have the option to use one or more horses in multiple race legs, or combinations, have a tendency to pay more.

  • The highest exacta payoff occurred when Elroho and Colonel Jerry paid $3,308.60 in 1987.
  • The highest trifecta took place when Clever Endeavor, Gottcha Silver, and Heartofdemi paid $70,086.20 in 2013.
  • The highest superfecta happened in 2014 when Brooktown, Oneta Sugar, Seafarer, Zeta Zody paid $145,338.00 (for a $2 payout).
  • The highest daily double paid $3,156.00 between Pendrug and Balistico in 1988.
  • That same year, the highest pick three occurred between Talc’s Girl, Lonely Beach, and Fourstardave, in which the pick three paid $51,030.00.
  • The largest pick four payout occurred in 2013 with Clever Endeavor, Gianna’s Music Man, Thatlleaveamark, and Sam Wayne winning. It paid $82,051.40 for a $2 bet.
  • The highest pick 5 paid $41,807.40 in 2016
  • And the biggest pick five jackpot, which unlike the regular pick five requires the bettor to pick five consecutive winners and have the only winning ticket, happened last year, and it paid $312,130 for a 50 cent bet.
  • The highest payout this season was a pick five jackpot that paid $60,805.15 on June 10. With just a bit more than half the season to go, look for the tote board to light up with some more big payouts…. and you just might be the big winner.